The Diocesan and Missioner, Lagos Diocese, Anglican Communion, Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Humphrey Olumakaiye has urged Christians to be united in prayer, as well as seek God whom he said is the only one that can heal the world in times of trials and tribulations.
Olumakaiye gave this charge in a sermon he delivered at the 2020 Easter service of the diocese of Lagos, Anglican Communion yesterday in Lagos.
While enumerating the significance of the season, the bishop reminded Christians that Easter is a time that the world celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
Said he: “Today, we are commemorating one of the greatest events in the history of the world; an event upon which our Christian faith is founded. Today, God turned our despair into victory, our night into day and our gloom into praises of His glory. What Satan wants us to fear has now become our anthem of praise. We are celebrating the triumph of good over evil, of love over hate, and of life over death.
“Jesus is risen! Thus, telling us that God is the power of life in the midst of much brokenness and sorrow in the world.
Jesus is alive, His resurrection is not merely a philosophical renaissance of His ideas and teachings- He is literally raised from the dead! The power of God exploded inside the tomb, reconnected Jesus’ spirit with His dead body, flooded His corpse with life, and He rose! Then, an angel rolled the stone from the entrance to the tomb, and Jesus physically walked through the door of the tomb alive!”
Speaking on the day’s text, he said: “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them “peace be unto you” when he had said this, he showed them His hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “peace be with you.
“Early this morning, Jesus had appeared to Mary Magdalene (John 20:1-18), but now he appeared to all the disciples (11 of them) at once. Let us notice three things here: The doors were locked. The disciples were frightened, and Jesus came to them and stood in their midst. The doors were locked: Jesus did not have to knock. He didn’t even have to open the door. He simply was there. And he was not a ghost. In verse 20, He showed them His hands and His sides.
In another place He said, ‘Touch me, and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have’ (Luke 24:39). Beloved, there is no one else like Jesus is the entire universe.”
On the greatness of Jesus, especially in the present situation of people in the world, he said: “Jesus is unstoppable, he cannot be caged. He can go where no one else can go. He can go where no doctor can go. He can go to the root of your sickness. He can reach you, anywhere and anytime. Jesus resurrection from the dead fits him to do what no one else can do. He is alive, and he is the one and only God. He can go to the root of this pandemic confronting the world. Beloved, I have good news for us, He said, I will heal the world.
“The doors were locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews. Their leader had just been crucified as threat to Caesar. In the midst of their fear Jesus came in. Just like we are today, these are days of abnormal fear, panic, anxiety and hopelessness with towering ramifications on human health, financial security, social life and future goals.
Today, around the world, fear, loneliness and stress have become companions in homes, and it’s becoming boring. Social and spiritual interactions are thwarted, not by choice but by circumstances beyond our control.”
The cleric assured that even in the midst of fear of death and hunger, among other things caused by the CVID-19 pandemic, that like Christ appeared to the apostles the risen, living Jesus will come to the world’s aid.
“He comes when we cry out to Him in our fear. He said fear not, I am with you, be not dismayed, I am your God I will help you (Isaiah 41:10). This is not the time for the world to start any blame game, but a time to be united in prayers. It is not the time to be competing on how we can outshine one another, or display our wealth. It is a time to seek God for help to heal our world.
“Do you know that by His resurrection, we are not alone in this pandemic, Jesus is in the midst of the storm? He wants us to see Him, know Him, believe in Him and love Him. Jesus came and stood among the apostles and said to them ‘peace be with you’. Beloved, we don’t initiate peace with Jesus by our actions. He initiates peace with us. The peace that Jesus offers the disciples and to us today, is peace that he accomplished when he died for us on the cross.
That is why in vs 20 he says ‘when He said this, he showed them His hands and his side “I am the one who died, I am the one you abandoned. And I am the one who was ‘pierced for your transgressions’ (Isaiah 53:5).”
While noting that peace is what the world needs at this time, he added that the reason Christ offers the people peace is because by shedding his blood he (Christ) has covered the people’s sins.
“This is what He’s telling you today; He is risen so that you can have peace that passeth all understanding. You need peace that the world cannot explain. Paul tells us that the peace of the resurrected Jesus will keep and guard your heart and mind! The peace will surround your heart and mind, just as a band of Israel soldiers would keep dangerous nuisances from entering the city of Jerusalem.
“When this peace is active in your life, it surpasses all natural understanding. It protects, guards, keeps and defends you. Nothing can be compared with this powerful, protective, guarding peace that God has positioned to stand at the entrance of your heart and mind! Today the world is saying: ‘Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your face; particularly your eyes, nose and mouth.
Stay at home. Avoid crowds and gathering of 10 or more people. Avoid all non-essential shopping and travel.
Keep six feet distance between yourself and others. Get plenty of sleep, which helps support your immune system.
Follow all recommendations from health authorities.”
While agreeing that the instructions listed above to prevent people from contracting the Coronavirus is good, the bishop reminded Christians that the most important instruction is that which Christ gave to the apostles that his (Christ) peace keep their hearts and minds.
Said he: “I don’t know how you can avoid touching your face! Whatever you cannot control, invite Christ.
Since what is inside you is that which rules you, peace rises up and conquers your entire being. Before Jesus gave the disciples power in Acts 1:8, the first thing he gave them was His peace. The guarding peace will always paralyze all efforts of the devil to attack you. In every situation you face today and every day, God’s supernatural peace rises up to dominate your heart and protect your mind and emotions. Many of us are watching the headlines every minute and wondering what is going to happen next? The risen Christ says, peace be unto you.”
He advised all to manage their anxiety and fear by asking for God’s peace in the face of this unique crisis.
He also advised those focusing on questions with unknown answers and circumstances to read their Bible and pray, so they will not feel anxious and overwhelmed by the crisis.
Said he: “God is in the business of protecting His own. Let us stay strong, raise family altars daily in our homes and worship God intimately and individually. The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your Hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”